It seems like we had been planning and preparing for our trip for ages; we had fitted the roof rack and the vehicle awning to the truck and then played with what would be best carried where, loading items on the roof rack then taking them off again and storing them in the back under the canopy. Finally everything seemed to find a home and the truck was packed ready for departure on Sunday morning.
This trip we are planning to visit Cape York and travel to the northern most point in Australia (http://www.tourismcapeyork.com/do/nature/tipofaustralia). Along the way we will visit Charters Towers, Undara National Park and Cooktown before joining friends to travel to Weipa (where we will leave our caravan) then drive further north to Seisia and the tip camping in tents along the way.
We left the Sunshine Coast with the aim of only driving to Mundubbera on the first day as it had not been an early start. Our first stop was at Ban Ban Springs for lunch and we were pleased to see that the old sign had been repaired since our last visit earlier in the year.
At the end of the day we found ourselves at Ceratodus Rest Area (Camps 6 – 455) just north of Eidsvold.
This was quite a pleasant camp and we shared it with only three other vehicles. The old Ceratodus Railway siding building has been located to the site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratodus,_Queensland).
There is also a monument located on the site dedicated to the Traylan native police unit (http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/government/colonial/display/91346-traylan-native-police-memorial).
Ceratodus Rest Area is situated on the banks of the Burnett River – this is the river that flows through Bundaberg and was responsible for devastating floods in the city in 2013 (http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/01/24/3931602.htm). Evidence of the height and force of water flowing through this site is still evident with debris in trees and an adjoining timber plantation (paulownia I think) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulownia) which was extensively damaged by the flood.
After a quiet night we were ready to go early next morning and drove on to Monto where we refueled. From Monto we travelled north to Biloela and then westerly toward Springsure passing through Banana, Moura, Bauhinia and Rolleston (where we took a lunch break) to Springsure. A couple of kilometres north of Springsure a small camping area has been established beside the highway (Camps 6 – 428).
The Queensland Holidays website describes the site – “Virgin Rock, which is situated four kilometres from Springsure is on the eastern side of Mount Zamia and has a naturally formed likeness to the Virgin Mary and Child. The spectacular cliffs are floodlit at night and can be viewed from the Lions Park.”
This campsite is very popular and it was just as well that we arrived early as spaces soon filled up and there were at least a dozen caravans (and one motor bike) camped at the site by nightfall. Traffic noise was reasonably high given the proximity to the highway but we had located ourselves to the rear of the site and had a reasonable night. We weren’t able to capture any images of the floodlit rock as our cameras were unable to deal with the light.
Next morning we were on our way to Emerald reasonably early and arrived on the outskirts of town at about 8:30am. A large Woolworths shopping centre has been built near the junction of the two highways and we visited to buy fresh bread and to refuel. It was much simpler than driving into town and negotiating parking with the caravan in tow.
From Emerald we travelled north to Capella and Clermont; it was probably 1980 since we last travelled through this area and on that occasion we were going to visit my mother who was cooking on Elgin Downs Station (http://www.bonzle.com/c/a?a=p&p=251768&cmd=sp); at the time we were living at Miriam Vale. In the thirty odd years since our last visit the towns had changed quite a bit but some buildings in Capella were still familiar – one can now have a massage at what I remember as the Peak Downs Shire Council chambers. The roads have improved as well and are now all bitumen sealed whereas back then they were mostly gravel surfaced.
North of Clermont (which the road now bypasses) we came across a flock of brolgas feeding in a harvested sorghum paddock; there was obviously enough grain on the ground to spike their interest. A little earlier we saw lots of these large birds encamped on the banks of a large farm dam the water and the grain obviously serving their needs for sustenance.
At Belyando Crossing (the place where the road crosses the Belyando River) we stopped for lunch.
One of our fellow campers at Virgin Rock had stayed in the caravan park at this location and had not given the site a good rating so we decided we would not stay there but push on to the next camp spot noted in the Camps 6 book. When we reached this small site we found the surface very chopped up and manoeuvrability through the trees on site was quite difficult. A number of other vans were already parked and two or three others were attempting to enter the site – we decided to push on to Charters Towers about one hundred kilometres north.
On the road north of Belyando Crossing we encountered a large herd of cattle being grazed along the long paddock. We had heard some radio chatter from our travellers before we encountered the herd which was being tended by a horseman and a woman on a four wheel motor bike. It was that these cattle were pretty hungry and probably drought affected but they seemed to be someone’s breeders given the number of calves afoot. We drove slowly though the herd which was split into two mobs over about a kilometre.
We were already booked into a caravan park for the next three nights so along the way (once we had mobile phone coverage) we contacted the park to ascertain if they could accommodate us for the extra night. Everything was fine so after three days travel we arrived at “The World” which was what the town was once known as (http://www.charterstowers.qld.gov.au/visitors/world_history.shtml).
Our stay here will extend until Saturday morning when we will head north to Undara.